|Joanne McNeil||Jul 1, 2019|
Here are a few of the books that I've enjoyed lately or hope to enjoy soon. The first was They Shoot Horses Don't They. I've seen the movie a million times but hadn't read the book before. The hapless narrator's delusions about his future—convinced his big break is right around the corner up to the very end—completely destroyed me. Worth checking out if just for the devastating use of font sizes (not sure if it's in every edition, but very prominent in the Serpent's Tail edition I got.)
I also recently read Ann Marlowe's How to Stop Time: Heroin from A to Z and hope someone else will, so we can talk about it. Seems inevitable that this will be a NYRB Classics reissue one day, as it could very well be marketed as Renata Adler after a night at Max Fish instead of Elaine's. I was skeptical of the structure (assembled like a dictionary, no chapters but sections under headings like "arrest" "cool" etc..) but it works, especially for anyone who already loves books like Bluets or Dept of Speculation. Her politics can be a bit Adler-ish too, and this is an addiction memoir from a very privileged position, but the author is direct about this, if not fully wise to it. Poor people of color she "cops" from, are present in the book, rather than edited away; she is aware of their hardship, and aware of her own discomfort with it. Even the posh anecdotes are stories that I haven't heard before — like juggling dope with tae kwon do classes, or her superrich Skidmore grad /drug trafficker friend *who took flying lessons* in order to distribute with her own plane. Wtf. The book is particularly poignant on the anxiety that draws someone to substance abuse and the time that addiction steals, but there's still something off...if not unreadably so. Here's a good review from 1999—the year it was published—by Rhonda Lieberman.
I really really loved Jackie Wang's Carceral Capitalism and Natasha Leonard's Being Numerous. Leonard is a playful and fiery writer, which why her book of ethical and moral questions feels light to read at first, but it is special and powerful and sneaks up on you. Wang's book is absolutely essential, a brilliant thinker in full command of her brilliance; and as a bonus there is lyrical chapter nestled in the middle of the book, almost secretly (it isn't listed in the index) that is so good and astonishing I don't know where to begin to talk about how good it is.
A few things I plan to read:
This series of "modern horror" short stories on Amazon. I'll read the Scott Heim story first, cause he's the best.
Barbara Comyns's Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead — I love her so much, I'm spacing out when I read her books
Molly Gloss's Dazzle of the Day — It was just reissued with a cool, almost dazzle-ship cover I could not resist picking it up. A novel about Esperanto-speaking Quakers in space? Hell yeah, why not.
I also just started reading The Children's Bach by Helen Garner. Not sure what to make of it yet, but I like the kooky dialogue. I don't know who needs this but:
Sascha Pohflepp, the artist and friend to many many many people passed away last week. He was always so genuine and friendly; expressing overwhelming care about the world and the people in it. I didn’t know him very well outside of the time that we overlapped at Eyebeam, but he was one of the people that make that community great. So I’ve been thinking about this piece he made in 2006, a "blind camera" that was nothing but a red button and a screen. The project, called Buttons, would find a photo taken at the moment you pressed the button and display it on the screen.… “This work tries to focus the user's imagination on that other, to create the narrative that runs between one's own memory and a stranger's moment.”
Thanks for reading.